"Gateway - Is it safe, financially?"
I wouldn't know for sure, but I think so. In any event, you're not thinking of ordering a laptop from America are you?
As for making mistakes - you won't if you proceed with caution. There are hundreds of machines out there, and no surefire way of knowing which of them is better than any of the others with similar specifications.
Post back with an idea of your budget limitations and we'll offer some suggestions.